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(LEAD) More Seoul residents worried about COVID-19 lasting longer following club infections: poll

All News 15:08 May 18, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 7-9, 11-12; RECASTS headline)

SEOUL, May 18 (Yonhap) -- More residents in South Korea's capital appeared to be concerned about the new coronavirus pandemic lasting longer here following the recent outbreak traced to nightspots in Itaewon, a poll showed Monday.

A combined 53.3 percent of respondents in a recent survey projected the pandemic would end in December or later, nearly doubling from 27.4 percent tallied in mid-April, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

Of the total, 19.8 percent said they expect the pandemic to end by December, while 33.5 percent thought it was unlikely for the outbreak to end within this year in the poll of 1,000 Seoul residents conducted from May 14-15.

Corresponding figures had come in at 4.2 percent and 23.2 percent, respectively, in the poll conducted between April 10-12. More than half of respondents had projected the pandemic would end by August in last month's results.

Itaewon in the central Seoul ward of Yongsan is mostly empty on May 16, 2020. (Yonhap)

Despite the less optimistic outlook, the poll showed that the city's residents were mostly against going back to social distancing.

Some 59.2 percent favored sustaining the current degree of "everyday quarantine," while 39.3 percent opted for returning to the social distancing campaign that ended on May 5.

The results showed that the respondents were open to tightened measures to contain the infectious virus.

When asked about health authorities using mobile access records to track down visitors to Itaewon, 91.7 percent said it was appropriate, while 7.2 percent cited privacy risks.

Some 75 percent of respondents also said it was appropriate for the city government to expand mandatory virus checks for all visitors to Itaewon, rather than just clubgoers, while 24.3 percent thought it was excessive.

The poll came after the country saw an unexpected spike in infections linked to nightclubs and bars in the central Seoul neighborhood of Itaewon in early May.

As of Monday at noon, South Korea had recorded 170 cases related to infections at entertainment facilities in Itaewon.

Of the total, 89 were those who had visited the Itaewon area, while 81 others were their family members and acquaintances who were infected through chain transmissions.

The poll of 1,000 Seoul residents aged 18 or older was conducted by RealMeter on behalf of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. It had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.


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